El Maresme, the Catalan super-commuter belt. Crowded trains hugging the seafront. Exclusive casas pareadas, yummy-mummy SUVs and all those signs of well-heeled and somehow out-of-bounds suburbia. Yes, it's a bit pijo - check out Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, the self-styled 'Super-Maresme with all its 24-hour surveillance golf-course gardens and periscope mansions). But, the Maresme has some delicious corners; milennial vineyards, good rambling routes, precious scenery and hands
In the 1960s an art movement was born which rejected the locating of art in the traditional habitat of the gallery or museum. Artists such as the American sculptor Robert Smithson reacted to an encroaching commercialization of art typified in the Pop Art movement, by taking their work into the great outdoors, where they would use natural, sustainable materials to create sculptures embedded in the natural landscape. Central to this 'Land Art' or 'Earthworks' movement was the n
Castellet i la Gornal is not somewhere many people have heard of. But it’s the site of one of Catalonia’s handsomest devils of a castle and it has a fine position over the Foix reservoir, with the vineyards of the Alt Penedés rolling away in one direction and the pine forests of the Garraf in the other. Approached from the coast at Vilanova it’s a lovely 14 kilometre drive up the meandering Foix river. The village is a gorgeous, golden-stoned medieval pile, mostly well-prese
Barcelona province is blessed with stunning mountain scenery. From the Serrated Mountain to the Eagle's Pass and Bertí's Crags, here's five mountains within half an hour's journey from BCN. We begin with the Sant Llorenç range and one mountain that really does mola... La Mola The chief pico in the Sant Llorenc del Munt I Obac mountain range, La Mola is one of the three main mountains (the others being Montserrat and Montseny) visible from the top of Tibidabo. The mountain is
Critic Peter S. Beagle, writing about Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, commented on the 'erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty.' For decades Spain has been sold as such a place, a place of 'perfect liberty', by budget tour companies. In particular, for the last sixteen years British students have converged in the handsome Costa Dorada locality of Salou, intent on turning it into a scene fro
Named after a beautiful concubine of Abd al-Rahman III, Medina Azahara is a Moorish palace on a lush mount overlooking the plains to the west of Cordoba. In 929 it was the capital of the Islamic state of Al-Andalus, 'the Versailles of the Middle Ages'. Now the roots of ancient trees wrap the palace’s tumbled stones in a skeletal embrace; sacked centuries ago, many of its rocks were carried off to Cordoba, five miles away, for the construction of churches and civic buildings.
Algeciras, just before midnight on the 23rd of June. Life-sized rag dolls are being carried down to the beaches at Getares and El Rinconcillo. Called Juanillos, these dolls carry inside them the secret wishes of Algeciran citizens, scribbled on bits of paper and stuffed in their bellies. Once they have reached the beach these dolls, together with the wishes committed to their bellies, are set on fire. This is the 'Fiesta de los Juanillos'. It's just one of hundreds of differe
It's a microclimate of tantalizing floral and geological diversity, with wildflowers, limestone caves, rousing views, secluded bays and kooky cottages, just over an hour south of Valencia. Viewed from Xábia, the elegant town on its southern slopes, the natural park of Montgó is often said to resemble the head and trunk of an elephant. The 753 metre-tall mountain which dominates the park - the elephant's head - is a beacon for hikers, but it's the rocky headland of Cape Sant A